Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Beauty That Owes Us Nothing

I spent some of this Monday cutting and gathering wood. I`m pleased to see that, driving further and higher  into my "patch" this time, there is still plenty deadwood to collect. Blue sky, sunlight and plum shadows enveloped me, Cezanne-like, rather than blanket grey dampness. Even the skyline gashes reflected ethereal elegance.
I hanker after some hardwood, but, beyond the very occasional prone birch, conspicuous in its whiteness, all is utilitarian spruce: fine for drying-out and burning. Quickly consumed.  
Nonetheless I`m going to saw and set aside some of this seasoning birchwood. As well as being a wonderful fuel, I`ll squirrel it away for sculpting during summer months, .

No deer, no robin even. Only a buzzard`s cry.
I am growing to know this place. Despite its sunset-facing valley slope there is nothing grand or beautiful about it, though spruce elsewhere, north America perhaps, are impressive trees when left alone by us to fulfil their potential.
I`m merely a form of woodlouse, harvesting the dead and the dying; neither coppicing nor planting.

Prosaic as this work-a-day Borders woodland is,  Muriel Barbery still speaks for it and for me when she observes:
“There's so much humanity in a love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling our own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature...yes, that's it: just thinking about trees and their indifferent majesty and our love for them teaches us how ridiculous we are - vile parasites squirming on the surface of the earth - and at the same time how deserving of life we can be, when we can honour this beauty that owes us nothing.” 

Monday, 4 February 2013

wood gatherer

I`m very glad to have extended my firewood license another three months and look forward to being in this forest as it starts to come alive once more...Over the winter I`ve had one curious, tame Robin keep me company, have heard, of course, keening buzzards and seen, rarely, glimpses of winter-dark roe deer. But that`s about it.
Much of the deadwood up here is sodden, after unremittingly wet months; snow and rain. I`m going to start collecting the countless sawn trunk stumps, discarded and dumped in the logging road ditches by forestry skyliners. I`ll gather them in pockets under dark, dry, close-knit spruce plantation. In time they`ll dry out. Once split, storing them will be a challenge as they don`t stack beautifully...